It is not spring yet in the world’s biggest gaming market. China’s top media regulator has stopped accepting new applications for game licences as it struggles through a backlog of thousands of titles from a previous nine-month hiatus, one industry source and a state-run news outlet said this week. Game publishers can still file applications to their respective provincial regulators but they are no longer passing them on to the State Administration of Press and Publications (SAPP) in Beijing, according to one gaming company executive who was briefed on the situation. An official with the SAPP confirmed the suspension with state news outlet the Paper on Wednesday, adding that the application process is under adjustment. China’s video games industry suffered its slowest growth in at least a decade last year after the suspension of approvals for new games amid a government restructuring. The SAPP – formed in April and now under the Communist Party’s propaganda department – resumed the process at the end of December, and has since licensed more than 500 titles largely in chronological order. Gaming stocks surge after official says China has resumed video game approvals after 9-month freeze While some industry players and watchers have read the new suspension as simply a procedural matter, others have expressed concern that further delays could hurt publisher earnings. In either case, there are still an estimated 4,000-5,000 titles waiting to be cleared for a full launch in China. Some of them are global blockbusters in trial runs which need approval for monetisation. Others could be the bread and butter games for smaller studios, which have struggled to survive the gaming freeze. Here are some of the biggest games still in the pipeline for approval: Fortnite Fortnite – which is a free-to-play game – made US$2.4 billion last year and now holds the record for the highest annual revenue of any video game in history, according to research firm SuperData. That is despite the fact that it has not been able to take in any money from Chinese gamers. Tencent, which bought a 40 per cent stake in Fortnite developer Epic Games in 2012, has the right to the battle royale phenomenon in China. The Shenzhen-based company launched the game’s desktop version in July via its distribution platform WeGame. But due to the absence of a licence, Fortnite in China cannot offer in-game purchases for a wide range of character outfits, weapon skins, and dance moves, which have become a major appeal to gamers worldwide. Meanwhile, Tencent has yet to launch Fortnite ’s mobile version for China’s millions of smartphone users, which requires a separate licence. PUBG Mobile PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is such a hit in China that there are actually two versions of the battle royale pioneer on smartphones, exclusively for the country – Army Attack and Exhilarating Battlefield , the latter of which is more similar to the PUBG Mobile global edition. But as with Fortnite , Chinese gamers cannot buy cosmetics for their characters in these free titles pending licence approvals. Again, Tencent is PUBG ’s distributor in China, but it has yet to release the game’s original PC version in the country. Monster Hunter: World First launched in January 2018, Monster Hunter: World sold over 11 million copies across different platforms over the past year, making it the all-time bestseller by Japanese developer Capcom. The game’s PC version became available on WeGame in August before anywhere else, but Tencent was forced to take it off the shelf a few days after launch, because the content did not meet regulatory requirements. Chinese gamers have not had any updates about the action role-playing title since then. China forms new body to review ethics risks of video games Game of Thrones: Winter is coming Just as the final season of Game of Thrones is about to premiere in two months, a new game adapted from the hit HBO show is coming to Chinese players on their phones. Winter is Coming is developed by Shanghai-based games maker Yoozoo, and Tencent handles its distribution in China. In January Tencent launched the first test version of the strategy title, and said it was applying for a licence. Yoozoo also made a browser version of the game for the global market, which is scheduled to launch this spring. Shining Nikki Shining Nikki is a fashion mobile game where players have to unlock fancy clothes, shoes, and hairstyles for the female protagonists. It is the latest instalment in the Nikki series developed by Pape Games, a renowned female-focused studio based in Suzhou, a city near Shanghai. Pape’s last hit was a mobile title called Lover and Producer , where players develop romantic relationships with four virtual heartthrobs . First unveiled in April last year, Shining Nikki has signed up one million players through pre-orders, according to its website. But so far the game is still nowhere to be found due to the lack of a licence.